Android iMessage app Beeper mini isn't working, and Apple probably killed it

Posted:
in iPhone

Just days after announcement, the Beeper app that (briefly) allowed for native iMessage communication on Android isn't working, and it appears that Apple already found a way to kill it.

Beeper Mini
Beeper Mini
Announced on

Tuesday, Beeper Mini from Beeper is an Android app that is designed to work with Apple's iMessage platform. The change means an Android device user can now have a conversation with an iPhone user, with the Android device's messages appearing in blue instead of the tell-tale green speech bubble.

At the time, Beeper thought that it was going to be impossible for Apple to kill in the short term. Instead of using a relay, Beeper Mini connects to Apple's servers directly. The communications are also encrypted end-to-end, with keys kept on the user's device, and without Beeper needing to have access to a user's Apple account either.



Late on Friday afternoon, the app stopped relaying messages. A large percentage of users who have been using the service are now finding that they can't use it, and worse yet, can't disconnect the registered number from the service.

There are conflicting reports on the nature of the problem. A Beeper representative on Reddit says that the issue is on Beeper's end.

An early statement by the company's CEO isn't clear on the matter, though.

"If it's Apple, then I think the biggest question is... if Apple truly cares about the privacy and security of their own iPhone users, why would they stop a service that enables their own users to now send encrypted messages to Android users, rather than using unsecure SMS." Beeper CEO Eric Migicovsky told The Verge on Friday. "With their announcement of RCS support, it's clear that Apple knows they have a gaping hole here. Beeper Mini is here today and works great. Why force iPhone users back to sending unencrypted SMS when they chat with friends on Android?"

In a later comment to TechCrunch about the culprit, he's more clear. When directly asked if Apple had a hand in the failure, he said that "Yes, all data indicates that."

How did Beeper Mini work?



When you first use the Beeper app on Android, it generates encryption keys. The public keys are then uploaded to Apple's servers to authenticate your device, and the private keys are stored locally on your Android device.

These encryption keys are used when sending messages. When you send a message, they are encrypted on-device before being sent so Beeper, Apple, nor anyone else will have access to them.

Beeper Mini back end setup
Beeper Mini back end setup



One of the difficult problems Beeper needed to solve, was notifications of new messages. On an Apple device, iMessage is built into the Apple Push Notification (APN) service which runs directly within the OS.

On Android, there is no APN within the OS so to stay connected, the app must be perpetually open, which isn't feasible. Instead, Beeper created a Beeper Push Notification (BPN) service that runs on its servers.

The BPN service is what connects to Apple's servers and detects when a message has been sent to you and alerts you in the app. Our best guess on Friday evening is that this is what's been blocked.

This is able to maintain privacy as Apple separates the credentials for sending and actually encrypting/decrypting the messages. It will detect an encrypted message that it is unable to read before alerting you where the message is decrypted on your device.

Ultimately, the path forward for Beeper is unclear.

Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    Some people want free services from Apple. Beeper, Epic, EU, etc. One possible solution is for Apple to start charging for its free services.
    danoxAnilu_777williamh9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 27
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,086member
    Why would any company think it's okay to hijack proprietary technology from another company, let alone Apple?  I get why people want to do this, but if they think it's going to be a viable business model, think again.

    I would never want to hire this CEO.  It's obvious he has s**t for brains.
    williamlondonchasmAnilu_777ravnorodomStrangeDays9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 27
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,678member
    Apple said Beep that....
    roundaboutnowAnilu_777sdw2001byronlStrangeDays9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 27
    Some people want free services from Apple. Beeper, Epic, EU, etc. One possible solution is for Apple to start charging for its free services.
    Until the EU bureaucrats declare it anticompetitive for Apple to charge for services on other devices that it offers for free on its own. Never mind, of course, that the cost is offset by the money Apple makes from you buying their devices.
    williamlondonAnilu_777
  • Reply 5 of 27
    davidwdavidw Posts: 2,024member
    Some people want free services from Apple. Beeper, Epic, EU, etc. One possible solution is for Apple to start charging for its free services.
    Until the EU bureaucrats declare it anticompetitive for Apple to charge for services on other devices that it offers for free on its own. Never mind, of course, that the cost is offset by the money Apple makes from you buying their devices.

    But you have it backwards. If Apple were to charge for a service on other platforms, that they offer for free on theirs, the EU bureaucrats would declare that Apple is being anti-competitive ....... by offering the service for "free" on their own platform. That can be interpreted by them as ....... a "gatekeeper" promoting their own service on their own platform ..... and would be limiting competition (on their own platform). It's very hard for any competitor to compete with "free" on the Apple device platform but they could compete with the service that Apple charge for, on other platforms. (Remember, Spotify crybaby CEO is trying to convince the EU commission that Apple is being anti-competitive because Apple do not have to pay a commission on Apple Music subscription cost with payments made on Apple's own platform. Imagine how much he would be crying about Apple being anti-competitive, if Apple Music was a "free" service on Apple devices.) Even in the US, the bureaucratic politicians could construed that as "predatory" pricing, to eliminate the competition (on Apple platform.).

    And then if Apple were to say that the "free" service is paid for by the money they make selling their devices, the sue happy lawyers in the US would be lining up to file a class action suit on behalf of the Apple device purchasers that bought Apple devices and are not and have no interest in, using the "free" service. The law firm of "Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe" would claim that these Apple device purchasers paid for a service that they didn't want, don't use and never plan to use, (in the purchase price of their Apple devices). And would demand Apple refund these purchasers the cost of the "free" service, that is added to the retail price of Apple devices.

    But it's a good thing iOS, tvOS, iPadOS, MacOS, WatchOS, etc., are free. The "free" services Apple offers is part of the Apple device OS. Even the Apple device users that got their Apple devices at little or no cost, as a hand-me-down, never have to pay for any OS (with all its "free" services) for their Apple devices. So Apple device users can't claim that they are "paying" for  the "free" services on their devices, that they are not using. And US lawyers can't sue on their behalf demanding some sort of refund.

    iMessage was never meant to be a money making  stand-alone service. It is meant as a feature to attract consumers to buy Apple devices or for already Apple device users, to keep them buying Apple devices. But if Apple thought that making iMessage available for free on Android, would lead to more Apple device sales, iMessage would be on Android (for free) by now. Otherwise, why should Apple bother to compete with other cross platform messaging services, that are not only free but might have more features?
       
    byronlwilliamlondonAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 27
    A sneaky work around. They sowed what they get. 
    9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 27
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,011member
    Here I was thinking that it would result in legal action.  Instead, they just flipped the switch and said “how about DEM apples?”  🤣🤣🤣



    byronl9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 27
    A sneaky work around. They sowed what they get. 

    You mean "They reaped what they sowed"?  :D
    9secondkox2ravnorodom
  • Reply 9 of 27
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,553member
    davidw said:
    Some people want free services from Apple. Beeper, Epic, EU, etc. One possible solution is for Apple to start charging for its free services.
    Until the EU bureaucrats declare it anticompetitive for Apple to charge for services on other devices that it offers for free on its own. Never mind, of course, that the cost is offset by the money Apple makes from you buying their devices.

    But you have it backwards. If Apple were to charge for a service on other platforms, that they offer for free on theirs, the EU bureaucrats would declare that Apple is being anti-competitive ....... by offering the service for "free" on their own platform. 
    What I said was "Apple should start charging for its free services" you somehow interpreted that as "Apple should start charging non-Apple users for its free services." No, that's not what I meant at all.
  • Reply 10 of 27
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,705member
    Reminds me of the time when there was an iPod competitor who tried to hijack iTunes as the means to sync their devices to Mac/PC (instead of developing their own syncing software).
    byronlgregoriusmAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 27
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,146member
    Apple promised to open source the iMessage protocol years ago.

    They should get on with it.
    williamlondon9secondkox2
  • Reply 12 of 27
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,613member
    I find this all to be great for the consumption of popcorn.
    williamlondonbyronlAlex1N9secondkox2watto_cobrabeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 13 of 27
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,776member
    darkvader said:
    Apple promised to open source the iMessage protocol years ago.

    They should get on with it.
    They did no such thing. As usual you’re ignorant about Apple history. I believe you are referring to Jobs’ ad hoc comment on stage that they’d open source FaceTime, unbeknownst to his own dev staff.

    Since iMessage is E2EE Apple and someone like Google would have to coordinate and orchestrate servers and security keys to make it work, which I’ve not heard of being done before. But there is no reason why Apple would be willing to work such a joint effort for the benefit of Android users. 
    williamlondonbyronl9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 27
    Some people want free services from Apple. Beeper, Epic, EU, etc. One possible solution is for Apple to start charging for its free services.
    The Android users I know would gladly pay for an iMessage app that works on Android.  But Apple has no interest in doing that, hence Beeper.
    williamlondon9secondkox2
  • Reply 15 of 27
    sflocal said:
    Why would any company think it's okay to hijack proprietary technology from another company, let alone Apple?  I get why people want to do this, but if they think it's going to be a viable business model, think again.

    I would never want to hire this CEO.  It's obvious he has s**t for brains.
    Not sure he's the one with s**t for brains.
    williamlondon9secondkox2
  • Reply 16 of 27
    sdw2001 said:
    Here I was thinking that it would result in legal action.  Instead, they just flipped the switch and said “how about DEM apples?”  🤣🤣🤣



    We'll see.  Beeper Cloud is already back up and running.
    williamlondonbyronlbobolicious9secondkox2
  • Reply 17 of 27
    sflocal said:
    Why would any company think it's okay to hijack proprietary technology from another company, let alone Apple?
    I would ask if at first blush because it is better for the customer...?

    As I recall Jobs saying to the effect that ~ to build the best computers they have to be profitable, to keep building better computers, however building a computer to be profitable will eventually fail... or something like that...  Does that seem in line with this...?

    The Beeper site sums it up well: www.beeper.com/cloud

    Chat today is broken. We have 5-10+ different chat apps on our phones, each for a different set of contacts. There's no unified inbox or search. Our inbox is cluttered with one-time codes and spam.

    So, we're fixing it. Beeper Cloud is a universal chat app. It’s a single app to chat with friends on 15 different chat networks. We’ve added chat superpowers that make it the best chat app on earth.

    I have a ton of contacts that will never, ever, ever buy an iPhone (on walled garden principle), and I for one have no desire to ever embrace other message apps like What's App or the like...

    Maybe this is the start of a universal solution - a message app 'for the rest of us'... ?
    edited December 2023 Alex1Nwilliamlondon9secondkox2
  • Reply 18 of 27
    auxio said:
    Reminds me of the time when there was an iPod competitor who tried to hijack iTunes as the means to sync their devices to Mac/PC (instead of developing their own syncing software).
    Realplayer. History does repeat itself. 
    9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 27
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,087member
    darkvader said:
    Apple promised to open source the iMessage protocol years ago.

    They should get on with it.
    They did no such thing. As usual you’re ignorant about Apple history. I believe you are referring to Jobs’ ad hoc comment on stage that they’d open source FaceTime, unbeknownst to his own dev staff.

    Since iMessage is E2EE Apple and someone like Google would have to coordinate and orchestrate servers and security keys to make it work, which I’ve not heard of being done before. But there is no reason why Apple would be willing to work such a joint effort for the benefit of Android users. 
    Android owners don't even need it. Google Messages provides all the same privacy and security as iMessage, and outside of the US other cross-platform messaging services
    are preferred over Apple or Google's. In the US it must be some weird "I wanna be like Apple" thing without having to buy the hardware. 

    IMO all that matters is cross-platform privacy, and the security and features to match it. If a service resists offering it then I'd suggest finding a better one, assuming those things are important enough to give less weight to your choice of platform.  In much of the world platform doesn't matter like it does in the US. 
    Alex1N9secondkox2
  • Reply 20 of 27
    darkvader said:
    Apple promised to open source the iMessage protocol years ago.

    They should get on with it.
    They did no such thing. As usual you’re ignorant about Apple history. I believe you are referring to Jobs’ ad hoc comment on stage that they’d open source FaceTime, unbeknownst to his own dev staff.

    Since iMessage is E2EE Apple and someone like Google would have to coordinate and orchestrate servers and security keys to make it work, which I’ve not heard of being done before. But there is no reason why Apple would be willing to work such a joint effort for the benefit of Android users. 
    Apple did intend for FaceTime to be an open standard that would be P2P — directly connecting devices vs going through Apple servers. They were sued by a patent troll for their implementation of that. The troll won. So not Apple’s fault.
    9secondkox2watto_cobra
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